Mining company ArcelorMittal brought the private sector together to fight the Ebola virus in Liberia, mobilising emergency support and building goodwill for their business.
Good for society
- Achieving zero cases of Ebola on Arcelor Mittal concessions, and many other companies’ sites, contributed to preventing further infections and stopping the spread of the outbreak.
- Through the Ebola Private Sector Mobilisation Group (EPSMG) ArcelorMittal created a single point of contact to connect the private sector with the humanitarian response and emergency services.
- Speaking together through the EPSMG, the private sector had a stronger voice to advocate for international support to fight Ebola.
Good for business
- ArcelorMittal's collaboration with other companies during the emergency helped to protect people, assets, and continued operations.
- The company's role in responding to the Ebola crisis helped to strengthen relationships and increased positive perception of the business among stakeholders.
The scale of the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in 2014 was unprecedented, and required a coordinated global response. The Ebola Private Sector Mobilisation Group (EPSMG) was established in 2014 to facilitate a mobilised and coordinated private sector response to the Ebola virus in West Africa.
Tips from ArcelorMittal:
One of the private sector’s key strengths is its agility; don’t lose this by creating too much bureaucracy – keep it simple.
Risk management must form the foundation of needs assessment and response in unexpected circumstances.
Partnerships between diverse sectors of society can provide complementary skills that provide a greater chance of solving the most complex challenges.
Do not underestimate the strength of preexisting relationships companies have with their stakeholders, including employees and communities in the areas they operate.
Mining company ArcelorMittal initiated the international EPSMG in July 2014, and led the EPSMG Liberia chapter. At its peak over 100 companies and almost 50 public bodies and NGOs were part of EPSMG drawn from a wide range of sectors and countries. EPSMG created a hub for the private sector to share information, work with the public sector to mobilise much needed emergency support to fight the outbreak, and contribute to action on the ground.
In the EPSMG, ArcelorMittal created a single point of contact to connect the private sector with the humanitarian response and emergency services to allow swift access to resources. Today, as the countries affected by Ebola work towards recovery, the goodwill between public and private sector and learning from the initiative continues to enable public and private sector collaboration.
Investing time to grow support
The most significant investment ArcelorMittal made in the EPSMG was the time, energy and effort of all those who participated. More than 30 people from ArcelorMittal were directly involved in management (for example chairing the group, secretariat, health, safety, medical and emergency response coordinators). All staff at ArcelorMittal Liberia (3,000+ people) played a part in fighting the disease. At its peak EPSMG's international calls had 400 connecting to it, representing over 150 organisations worldwide and representing over 50,000 employees in affected countries. The EPSMG network created the single access point to facilitate information sharing between companies, the World Health Organisation, the UN Mission for Emergency Ebola Response, ambassadors, and NGOs active in the fight against Ebola.
As participant numbers grew, the aims of the EPSMG quickly expanded from information sharing to the mobilisation of resources to support the wider humanitarian and healthcare response and advocacy to focus international attention on the outbreak. The group forged strong relationships with key international agencies such as the UN, the International Red Cross and Resolve.
Companies which joined the group delivered an estimated $21 million in additional funding as well as vehicles, medical supplies, as well as unquantifiable benefits through shared logistics, access, community engagement and dialogue, and Ebola prevention practices to protect their employees and employees’ dependents.
Minimal governance to preserve agility
EPSMG created a single access point for public and private sector. Integral to the success of EPSMG was that it was intentionally non-bureaucratic. Operating Principles and Commitments were created to define the purpose and commitments of the group.
Participation in the group grew by word of mouth; participation was open to all and entirely voluntary. Companies made their own decisions on how best to support the Ebola response, and determine how they could have the biggest impact based on their location, type of activity, potential for outreach etc.
Creating space for conversations
EPSMG created a space for companies to share best practice, and gave them direct access to the best factual information from expert agencies such as the Red Cross, WHO and UN, as well as recommendations and advice for implementing the best prevention and response preparedness measures. EPSMG also acted as a safe space for questions and concerns to be raised, enabling the pooling of information, resources, actions and solutions. Challenges to which there were no immediate solutions such as international air travel restrictions also became points for companies to join together in advocacy.
What ArcelorMittal's CEO said:
“I am very proud of the proactive approach that we took in leading the private sector response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.” - Mr. Lakshmi N. Mittal, Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal